Poverty rates spike and the blame is bigger than Washington

According to the Census Bureau, 46.2 million Americans live in poverty. The record-breaking figure is the largest the Census Bureau has seen since 1952, which was the year they started keeping track of poverty in America.

It’s not a surprising amount. Unemployment is still at 9.1 percent. It’s even worse in California at 12 percent. The recession is ongoing. People continue to lose their jobs and their homes.

One of President Barack Obama’s plans to combat this is a focus on higher education. Last week, Obama unveiled a $450 billion plan to stimulate job growth and the economy. $5 billion of that would go to community and tribal colleges.

Joblessness, according to economists, is the main reason for the recent increase in poverty. It is estimated that 86 million working-age people did not work a single week last year in the United States, said Trudi Renwick, who is the Census Bureau’s chief of the Poverty Statistic Branch.

By focusing on higher education, the goal is to provide citizens with the tools necessary to find employment. That’s all well and good, but it’s still up to the individual to take advantage of the help they are receiving.

The government can provide all the money they want to financial aid and the infrastructure of community colleges, but they cannot pay the school to give people the credits necessary for an associate or bachelor’s degree.

The governmental system in this country is anything but perfect. There are people out there who are just down on their luck and need assistance.

At the same time, it would be naïve to think that out of those 46.2 million people living in poverty, that some of them have not taken advantage of the resources available to them. Does anyone really believe there are 46 million people who have done everything right but are still living in poverty?

As of 2010, 43 percent of people living in poverty aged 20-29 did not graduate from high school. For citizens aged 30-39, it was 39 percent. The figure drops to 8 percent for college graduates aged 20-29. It’s 4 percent for graduates aged 30-39.

The important thing to remember is this: It’s completely understandable if people have lost faith in their government during the recession. But it’s imperative that people do not lose faith in themselves.

Take advantage of public higher education. Don’t just sign up for some classes only to drop them mid-semester. Take them, pass them, get a degree and move on with your life.

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